The latest government jobs report held both good and bad news for unemployed and underemployed workers. On the positive side, the U.S. economy continues to add jobs, with 126,000 nonfarm positions added in March. However, the employment sector is growing at a much slower pace that at any time in recent history.
The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent, as many economists had predicted it would. But economists also say wage growth has been stagnant during the recent recovery, NPR reports, and the unemployment rate may not fully represent the number of people looking for jobs.
The latest employment jobs numbers
The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that in March, the number of unemployed people in the United States stood at 8.6 million, down by a little more than 1 percent in the past year. Additionally, the number of new unemployed people dropped by 157,000 in March and has decreased by 342,000 over the previous year. The number of long-term unemployed people dropped by 1.1 million over the past year.
Effects for workers and employers
NPR also reports that wage growth is at about 50 percent of its typical rate, suggesting that employers can attract workers easily without offering higher compensation. The sluggish wage growth also may mean that the reported unemployment rate doesn’t include everyone looking for a job.
Many part-time workers — some 6.5 million — would like to have full-time jobs. BLS reports that many of these workers have had their hours cut back or are unable to find full-time jobs.
In addition, BLS noted that in March, 2.1 million people wanted to work and had job-searched over the past year but had not tried in the month prior to the survey. Among those individuals, 738,000 were “discouraged workers” — those not looking for work because they feel certain nothing is available.
The report also included good news for certain employment sectors that continued to trend in a positive direction: business and professional services, retail and the health care industry.
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) government jobs report http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm